What's the Difference? Choosing Silver Beads
When you're shopping for sterling silver or fine silver beads, you'll notice some specific words used to describe them. What do they mean? We're here to explain!
Seamless versus Seamed
Round sterling silver beads are manufactured in one of two ways. The most economical method is to use flat strips of metal that are formed into round beads, but because they come from strips there is a welded seam. With high-quality beads, the seams are barely noticeable, as with most of the seamed beads that are carried by Artbeads. The other method is to use “tube stock,” whereby the beads are formed from tubes of metal. This is a more difficult manufacturing process, but results in beads that are seamless and are thus considered to be higher quality. We include those words in the titles to make it easier for you to shop.
Lightweight sterling silver beads have thinner walls than the typical comparable bead. Because they have thinner walls, they use less sterling silver and are therefore less expensive. They are just as beautiful as the full-weight beads, but they may not feel as substantial. They are quite durable but may not hold up as much to the abuse that some beads may get when strung onto bracelets that are being worn every day in harsher conditions. For example, we wouldn’t advise using lightweight sterling silver beads on a leather bracelet that is being worn by someone that often works outdoors and is relatively active.
Sterling silver beads with an antiqued or oxidized finish are intentionally treated to have a vintage or weathered appearance. They have less luster than untreated silver and often may have a darker look between details or raised elements. Antiqued beads should not be treated with liquid precious metal cleaners unless you would like to remove the antiqued effect. If an antiqued bead becomes too tarnished, we suggest cleaning with a polishing cloth.
Stardust and Diamond-Cut
Stardust or diamond-cut beads are laser-etched to create a textured surface that has a beautiful glitter or sparkle effect.
Matte and Satin versus Shiny
Beads with a matte or satin finish have a much less reflective surface than typical silver. Rather than a bright shine, they have a soft sheen similar to frosted beads.
Brushed and Hammered
Brushed or hammered beads get their name from the tools originally used to create the effects. A brushed bead will have lined patterns on the surface, originally created by dragging a wire brush over the surface of the metal. Hammered beads were originally hammered to get their distinctive patterns. Some beads with these descriptions may have the textures artificially created, but others like Hill Tribe Silver beads are still made with traditional tools.